The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume II, Part 2: From the Early Christian Era to the Age of Discovery: Africans in the Christian Ordinance of the World

Overview

In the 1960s, art patron Dominique de Menil founded an image archive showing the ways that people of African descent have been represented in Western art. Highlights from her collection appeared in three large-format volumes that quickly became collector’s items. A half-century later, Harvard University Press and the Du Bois Institute are proud to publish a complete set of ten sumptuous books, including new editions of the original volumes and two additional ones.

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Overview

In the 1960s, art patron Dominique de Menil founded an image archive showing the ways that people of African descent have been represented in Western art. Highlights from her collection appeared in three large-format volumes that quickly became collector’s items. A half-century later, Harvard University Press and the Du Bois Institute are proud to publish a complete set of ten sumptuous books, including new editions of the original volumes and two additional ones.

Africans in the Christian Ordinance of the World, written by a small team of French scholars, has established itself as a classic in the field of medieval art. The most striking development in this period was the gradual emergence of the black Magus, invariably a figure of great dignity, in the many representations of the Adoration of the Magi by the greatest masters of the time. The new introduction by Paul Kaplan provides a fresh perspective on the image of the black in medieval European art and contextualizes the classic essays on the subject.

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Editorial Reviews

Spectator

The volumes so far are a treasury of paintings and sculptures of people down the ages, taking in many strands of ritual, classicism, artlessness and humanity.
— William Feaver

New York Review of Books

Review of the previous editions:

One concludes from these pioneering volumes that artistic representations were historical "events" that eventually helped to shape a mentality that justified the enslavement of millions of Africans as well as later attempts to Christianize and liberate their descendants.
— David Brion Davis

The Art Newspaper

A sumptuous new edition with much additional material and copious color pictures....The books are a wonderful resource: a glitteringly decorated window into the Du Bois Institute's unrivalled archive of relevant images. The accompanying essays, which are models of erudition, are inescapable reading for anyone interested in the subject.
— Felipe Fernández-Armesto

Choice

The joy of this series lies in the illustration and discussion of imagery found not only in paintings and woodcuts, but also in mosaics, illuminated manuscripts, and murals.
— K. Mason

Times Literary Supplement

Monumental and groundbreaking volumes...[with] beautifully reproduced and thought-provoking images…A vast array of different "Images of the Black" appear in these volumes, from statues of black saints such as St. Maurice or St. Benedict the Moor, to portraits of notable African ambassadors and kings, poets and musicians, or drawings of literary characters such as Shakespeare's Othello, Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, or Yarico from George Colman's Inkle and Yarico...Africans have been painted and sculpted by some of the most eminent artists in the Western tradition, including Titian, Tiepolo, Rubens, Rembrandt,Van Dyck, Reynolds, Hogarth, Watteau and Gainsborough. More importantly, they have not been caricatured, but sensitively portrayed by these masters, their humanity captured on canvas for all to see...In placing such a vast variety of different images together, both positive and negative, these volumes show that the "Image of the Black" was not at all homogenous but rather reflected the wide range of the Western response to the "other."...Seen through the prism of "Western Art," these "Images of the Black" often tell us more about the Europeans and their agendas than the Africans they portray. Nonetheless, the cumulative effect of the images is to demonstrate a continuous black presence in the Western imagination and experience…This series will pose new questions to scholars of art, history and literature and provoke us all to reconsider the role of "the Black" in Western civilization.
— Miranda Kaufmann

Kwame Anthony Appiah
A fascinating story of the changing image of Africa's people in Western art. The images are simply extraordinary and the scholarship inspiring. Anyone who cares about Western art or about Africa and her diaspora ought to know these magnificent volumes.
New York Review of Books - David Brion Davis
Review of the previous editions:
One concludes from these pioneering volumes that artistic representations were historical "events" that eventually helped to shape a mentality that justified the enslavement of millions of Africans as well as later attempts to Christianize and liberate their descendants.
Paul Gilroy
In addition to being an indispensable guide to the evolving meanings of racial difference, these dazzling volumes filled with extraordinary images and rich arguments contribute to an alternative history of the Western world. An invaluable gift for both specialists and general readers.
Spectator - William Feaver
The volumes so far are a treasury of paintings and sculptures of people down the ages, taking in many strands of ritual, classicism, artlessness and humanity.
The Art Newspaper - Felipe Fernández-Armesto
A sumptuous new edition with much additional material and copious color pictures....The books are a wonderful resource: a glitteringly decorated window into the Du Bois Institute's unrivalled archive of relevant images. The accompanying essays, which are models of erudition, are inescapable reading for anyone interested in the subject.
Choice - K. Mason
The joy of this series lies in the illustration and discussion of imagery found not only in paintings and woodcuts, but also in mosaics, illuminated manuscripts, and murals.
Times Literary Supplement - Miranda Kaufmann
Monumental and groundbreaking volumes...[with] beautifully reproduced and thought-provoking images…A vast array of different "Images of the Black" appear in these volumes, from statues of black saints such as St. Maurice or St. Benedict the Moor, to portraits of notable African ambassadors and kings, poets and musicians, or drawings of literary characters such as Shakespeare's Othello, Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, or Yarico from George Colman's Inkle and Yarico...Africans have been painted and sculpted by some of the most eminent artists in the Western tradition, including Titian, Tiepolo, Rubens, Rembrandt,Van Dyck, Reynolds, Hogarth, Watteau and Gainsborough. More importantly, they have not been caricatured, but sensitively portrayed by these masters, their humanity captured on canvas for all to see...In placing such a vast variety of different images together, both positive and negative, these volumes show that the "Image of the Black" was not at all homogenous but rather reflected the wide range of the Western response to the "other."...Seen through the prism of "Western Art," these "Images of the Black" often tell us more about the Europeans and their agendas than the Africans they portray. Nonetheless, the cumulative effect of the images is to demonstrate a continuous black presence in the Western imagination and experience…This series will pose new questions to scholars of art, history and literature and provoke us all to reconsider the role of "the Black" in Western civilization.
New York Review of Books
Review of the previous editions:

One concludes from these pioneering volumes that artistic representations were historical "events" that eventually helped to shape a mentality that justified the enslavement of millions of Africans as well as later attempts to Christianize and liberate their descendants.
— David Brion Davis

Spectator
The volumes so far are a treasury of paintings and sculptures of people down the ages, taking in many strands of ritual, classicism, artlessness and humanity.
— William Feaver
The Art Newspaper
A sumptuous new edition with much additional material and copious color pictures....The books are a wonderful resource: a glitteringly decorated window into the Du Bois Institute's unrivalled archive of relevant images. The accompanying essays, which are models of erudition, are inescapable reading for anyone interested in the subject.
— Felipe Fernández-Armesto
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674052581
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 572,204
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

David Bindman is Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at University College London.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and is the Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

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